Now this goes far beyond everything which the Pope has said before. And then of course he puts Thomas Aquinas again into the role of the Catholic philosopher.
That meant that some of the French existentialists, Lubac and others, and others – had to give up their teaching positions because philosophically they were existentialists – although they answered the existentialist questions in religious terms. So you see one line which goes on even against all probability.
1 remember when in March 1950, the Holy Year of the Roman church – 1 asked Dr. Niebuhr, “What do you think: will the Pope make this declaration ex cathedra, about the ascension of the Holy Virgin?” Then he answered: 1 don’t think so; he is too clever for that; it is a slap in the face to the whole modern world and it is only dangerous for the Roman church to do that today. And a few months later it was done! Now this means even such a keen observer as Reinhold Niebuhr couldn’t imagine – and I was of course convinced by him, even more than he himself probably!! – I was convinced that he was right because none of us could imagine that the Pope would dare to do this today. But he did it. And what does that mean? This means two things, that an authoritarian system, in order to fix itself, has to become narrower and narrower. It has to do what the other totalitarian systems do: they exclude, step by step, one danger after the other, threatening them by the presence of other traditions. In the Middle Ages, before the Crusades, there was no other tradition than the tradition of the ancient Church, which was the great educator of the barbaric nations. This was a simple situation. The problem already became actual when since Frederick.Il, ca. .1250 – the same year in which there was the 4th Lateran Council – in this moment the danger started and the Church reacted with anti-heretic laws and crusades. The same thing is in the development of the Roman church and in the development of all other totalitarian systems: they must try to prevent their subjects from meeting other traditions. Of course, the Roman church did this consistently for many, many years, in terms of the Index Librorum Vetitorum, the index of forbidden books, which are forbidden not for the scholars, of course, but for the populace; the general people is not allowed to read any of the books which are on the Index, and students must have a general or special permission, for instance, to read theological books of Paul Tillich, and others – which they sometimes do; and then they are very clever about them. 1 just got an article about my systematic theology from a Catholic; he gave me the manuscript, and it is an excellent analysis. They can do it very well, but they must have special permission for that. The ordinary man is not allowed to read such !”dangerous” things, which means other traditions are not allowed to hit the souls of those who shall be well preserved. Now that is one of the reasons for the so-called “iron curtain.” This is why Hitler completely cut off Germany from any intellectual influence, year by year a little more. And this is an inescapable development of all authoritarian systems, and this is why this encylical in the year 1950 was so interesting, with the declaration of the dogma.